By Robert Wielaard
Oceanco owner Mohammed Al-Barwani, whose Netherlands-based company makes custom yachts starting at 80m in length, says he sees much overcapacity, especially “in the 30 to 40 to 60m yacht range.”
Speaking to journalists touring the Oceanco headquarters, Al-Barwani said not helping matters was the fact top echelons at many companies lack adequate managerial skills leaving “a lot of hobbyists” running yards.
“There are a lot of people fishing in the same pond. There is overcapacity and some very good yards are going under,” according to Al-Barwani. He said it is difficult for yards to attract “experienced and capable managers.”
Oman-based Al-Barwani acquired Oceanco in 2010. He also has interests in oil, gas, manufacturing, and minerals in Europe, the Mideast and Asia Pacific. Al-Barwani says he is a “generalist … An owner can be a generalist.” But yacht manufacturing companies “need managers who know the industry, who know designing and yacht engineering. This is definitely a specialised industry.”
Al-Barwani says he bought Oceanco at the lowest point of the economic slowdown that followed the 2008 financial crisis. “I knew we were at the bottom of the cycle but I also knew that wouldn’t last forever,” he says.
In recent years, he has led Oceanco to secure its position at the high end of the market.
Since 1987, it has built more than two dozen high-end motoryachts. Recently it entered the sailing superyacht market with a vengeance: in May it launched an 85m Bill Tripp-designed flybridge ketch-rig›ged sailing yacht (pictured), a collaboration with Vitters Shipyard of the Netherlands. And it is currently building a Dykstra-designed Dynarig sailing yacht with three rotating masts and an overall length of 106m.
Oceanco officials say the fact their yard – after almost three decades of turning out quality motoryachts – is suddenly producing top-end sailing craft is coincidence. “These two projects are unrelated.” says Dirk de Jong, Oceanco manager of project design and innovation. The massive 85m ketch brings together Oceanco’s experience in producing custom power yachts in 80m+ range, and Vitters Shipyard’s vast experience in building large, high performance sailing yachts.